LEZ in disarray as SNP fail to make fresh air scheme work
One unfortunate motorist collected £900 in fines in July alone as the SNP-led city council was itself hit with 21 fines as it splashed out almost £100,000 on hiring compliant vehicles
By Lucy Ashton
The launch of Scotland’s first ‘clean air’ city centre scheme was in pollution disarray behind the scenes from the start, shock new figures show.
In June, Glasgow pioneered the Low Emission Zone concept which will attempt to improve air quality in the city centre, and subsequently in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee next year.
However, the council’s inability to comply with its own rules has been laid bare by a series of Freedom of Information requests.
West Dunbartonshire and Argyll and Bute residents, who have to travel to the city for business and entertainment, are furious at the inconvenience and cost of it all.
The ban on diesel vehicles from before 2015 and petrol cars before 2006 saw £60 penalties dished out to 21 of its own vehicles, resulting in fines worth a possible £1260.
It has also been revealed the local authority splashed out almost £100,000 by hiring vehicles to replace those within its fleet that did not comply with the new eco-rules.
The Scottish Conservatives’ transport spokesman Graham Simpson said: “The sum of taxpayers’ cash spent hiring vehicles perfectly encapsulates the total hypocrisy of the SNP-led Glasgow City Council in imposing their LEZ.
“They ploughed ahead with its implementation, hitting hard-pressed motorists in the pocket, rather than listening to the concerns of residents and businesses.
“The LEZ has become a costly shambles, yet another example of SNP policy disastrously rolled out because they refused to consider its consequences.”
The number of motorists caught breaching the LEZ doubled between June and July, taking the potential total received in fines to almost £600,000. One unfortunate motorist collected £900 in fines in July alone.
As the scheme got up and running during the summer, council transport chiefs hired two eight ton DAF trucks, a Skyking cherry picker, a Mercedes refrigerated van, 52 Ford Transits and 22 Vauxhall Corsas.
The council say that nine of the 21 penalty notices its own fleet received were subsequently cancelled because the vehicle – thought to be just one which received multiple fines – was actually LEZ-compliant.
A council spokeswoman said: “Glasgow’s Low Emission Zone is an essential measure to protect public health by reducing stubbornly high levels of harmful air pollution in our city centre.
“Its requirements apply equally to council vehicles as they do all other vehicles driving into the zone. A small number of non-compliant council vehicles have been subject to penalty charge notices following the recent introduction of Glasgow’s LEZ.
“Measures to mitigate against such occurrences are in place and drivers have been reminded of the scheme’s requirements as necessary.”
Edinburgh LEZ based on Brussels
Meanwhile, it’s been disclosed that drivers in Edinburgh could also face swingeing penalties when the capital’s LEZ starts next June.
City councillors originally based their financial estimates on the experience of the Belgian capital, Brussels, which introduced its LEZ in 2018.
The City of Edinburgh Council say they anticipated hardly any penalties, based on the “high compliance” among Brussels motorists.
But figures show that offences there have been climbing year-on-year and have so far raised around £15 million in the last five years.
All this shows that local authorities are failing badly on matters relating to climate change ideas and innovation.
West Dunbartonshire Council for example made a hash of introducing electric vehicles into their council fleet and newly purchased vehicles were left rusting for months in the council car park.